Sunday, January 22, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes!

I feel that Red Velvet Cupcakes need to have their own post. I won't make red velvet cake as most know it, due entirely to the fact that one recipe can have as much as TWO bottles of artificial red food coloring in it. FD&C Red 40 is suspected to cause hyperactivity in children, possibly contributing to ADD and ADHD, is a known carcinogenic (causes cancer), and has a host of other issues as well. It's also very hard to avoid, being in many processed foods that Americans buy on a daily basis.

My own children are often drawn to brightly colored foods (who isn't?!), and I am always trying to find ways to make what is consumed at home fun for all of us, yet still healthy (or healthier).  I have been using natural colors for years now, and have quite a bit of experience with different brands, varieties, etc. unless they are actually baked IN the food. Natural colors chemically react with other ingredients, and while you might start out with a batter that is bright yellow or pink, once it starts to bake it changes to a drab brown or worse.

Several clients have asked me about Red Velvet Cake, and I needed to wait until I had some free time to play with various recipes and ingredient combinations before I could confidently say that I can offer them for special orders. My cousin cornered me at a Christmas Party last month, and finally pushed me over the edge to begin experimenting, after a lengthy discussion on the chemistry involved in naturally colored RVC, among other goodies. I finally took the chance.

Two tries resulted in tasty cupcakes that were deep red on top and bottom, but light brown on the inside. Two other completely different recipes were inedible, although bright red throughout, making my chickens feel very spoiled and happy! I knew I needed to find a happy medium, which finally led to a delicious recipe that is bright red on the top and bottom, and light pink inside.

I am now happy to offer naturally colored Red Velvet Cupcakes for special orders. They are made with the highest quality ingredients, organic red beet powder, and are topped off with a swirl of organic cream cheese icing and a sprinkle of naturally colored red sprinkles (or other color as desired). They can be made Gluten-Free.

Due to the inconsistency in color in the center of the cake, RVC is only offered as cupcakes and mini cupcakes, not layer cakes. Cupcakes will showcase the red color at its best. If you happen to be from the South, and are looking for the traditional fluffy vanilla "gravy" icing like your grandmother made, I happen to offer that as well! Contact me for pricing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Whole Grain Bread Class

This morning I was up early to finish preparing for the Whole Grain Bread Class that started promptly at 9 AM.  Six ladies joined me to learn how to make quick, nutritious whole wheat sandwich bread in 2 1/2 hours, and also a versatile dough that can be used for pizza, pita, focaccia, and so much more.  The Italian bread dough can help you create a pizza in record time, for a relatively fast dinner, or even faster as flatbread or pita.  We even discussed how to grill it in the summer to avoid heating up the house with your oven!

Everyone gathered around the oven to watch as the pita puffed up into cool (well, HOT) pockets, and then sampled it with local raw honey, homemade pear butter, and olive oil and balsamic.  Slices of warm sandwich bread were served as well.

Once the majority of the bread had been baked and the pizza dough had a chance to finish rising, it was topped and baked as well.  One pizza had all natural pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, organic red pepper, mozzarella, and home-grown, home-canned pizza sauce on it (one half was left vegetarian, sans pepperoni).  The other had homemade basil pesto (that I froze from last summer's harvest), mozzarella, grilled organic chicken breast, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, homegrown sundried heirloom tomatoes, and organic green onions.  Both were served with a citrus salad (featuring blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, organic Navel oranges, and organic grapefruit), green salad (organic spring greens, local dried cranberries, local cheese, spiced pepitas, and vinaigrette), homemade raspberry lemonade, and Tazo Focus iced tea.  It was a delicious, gourmet feast!

Each participant was provided with a packet of recipes and tips for success in baking their own breads, and the discussion revolved around ingredients, and the history of wheat.  A raffle was held at the end, and two people were sent home with loaves of bread. 

If you are interested in being part of one of these great classes, contact me right away!  The Classes! link at the top of the site has dates and information on upcoming sessions.  The bread class was full, and the others should fill quickly as well!